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been described. This miserable generation are, like all other casts, born to their employment, but, unlike other casts, they would fly from it, if guards were not posted at every avenue by which they could escape. They inhabit a sandy shore, surrounded with an immense wilderness full of tigers and snakes, and intersected by a labyrinth of water. The innumerable islands which the various rivers form along the coast are inhabited only by wild beasts—the tiger indded is lord of the region. These poor wretches, while working at the salt-pans on the long spots of sand which project into the sea from the jungle, keep always à look out for tigers on the opposite bank, and when one is seen coming, they have no alternative but to hide themselves in holes which they have dug for the purpose, having no arms wherewith to defend themselves. Holes dug in the sand åre but a feeble protection ; long experience has taught the tiger. that these men are his prey, and he often digs them out with his claws. . We know by the opinions of the most competent persons, that the Courts of Justice in India furnish the most incontestable proofs of general depravity ; insomuch, that it has become a fixed and necessary rule of evidence to suspect as false the testimony of every witness, till cause be shewn for believing it: the presumption being infinitely stronger against his veracity, than in favour of it. But the most striking instance that occurs to us is related by Captain Williamson. A labouring man near Caunpore; in the year 1795, while buying provisions at a hut by the road side, happened to shew some money which he had about him, and which was somewhat less than a shilling in value. An old woman, and a boy of about fourteen, who were present, followed him in the hope of robbing him : but not thinking themselves strong enough, they communicated their purpose to six men whom they met on the road; and all eight joining, they murdered the man. There was an encampment near, they quarrelled on dividing the spoil, were seized, and, by a sentence of a general court-martial, hung in chains, two at each quarter of the cantonment. It appeared, upon investigation, that all parties were perfect strangers, never having seen one another till the day of the murder ; and Captain Williamson justly says, that if the fullest proof had not been adduced before the court-martial, and there were not many gentlemen in England who remember the fact, he should fear to relate an instance of wickedness so incredible, as that eight persons, under such circumstances, should combine to commit a murder.
Let it not be supposed, that in thus speaking of the general depravity of the Hindoos, we believe them to be universally depraved. Rather would we be thought to hold, that there is in human nature an original principle of good as well as evil, and in itself the stronger as well as the better principle, were not the world and the world's law' so frequently opposed to it. In Hindostan, as in every other country, individuals will be found in whom the elements are so happily mixed, that even the accursed institutions by which they are
surrounded, fail to corrupt their hearts and their understandings, But it is the tendency of those institutions to corrupt both, and in proof that the effect has been produced, a more competent or more candid witness cannot be appealed to than Mr. Forbes. His prepossessions were in favour of the Hindoos; his conduct such as to deserve and obtain their respect and love; but after a long residence in the country, he left it with a thorough abhorrence of the Hindoo character, or rather of those civil and religious institutions which degrade and deprave it, making one part of the community wicked, and the other miserable. It is characteristic of the wretched state of society, that in the Hindostanee tongue, the same word should signify a lie and a jest ; and that in the Tamul there is no word for hope !
The Hindoog have been called a gentle race, because they submit to oppression, and a humane race, because most of the casts abstain from animal food. But if animals are not eaten in that country, no where are they treated with greater barbarity; and among the casts who allow themselves animal food, instances of more extravagant barbarity are to be found than among the cannibals of Brazil or Angola. · The following two narratives are striking illustrations of their horrible superstitions :-
Some Mussulmen walking through a village where a family of Raghpoots resided, accidentally looked into a room where an elderly woman was eating ; no insult was intended, they merely saw her at her meal, and immediately retired; but this was a disgrace for which there could be no expiation. She lived with her grandson, a highminded young man; he happened to be absent : on his return she told him what had passed, declared that she could not survive the circumstance, and entreated him to put her to death. He reasoned with her calmly, his affection making him see the matter in its proper light: none but her own family, he said, knew the disgrace, and the very men who occasioned it were unconscious of what they had done, She waited till he went out again, and then fractured her skull by beating it against the wall! The young man found her in this state, but alive and in her senses : she implored him to finish the sacrifice which she had not strength to accomplish, and release her from her sufferings :-and he then stabbed her to the heart. Shocking as this is, the most painful part of the story is to come. The parties were English subjects ; by the English laws the young man's act was murder; he was arrested, sent to Bombay for trial, and confined with common prisoners till the ensuing sessions; a true bill was found against him; the jury, consisting half of Europeans and half of natives, brought him in guilty, and the judge condemned him to death. He received his sentence, not only with composure, but with a mingled look of disdain and delight, not easy to describe. The sentence of the law was executed, in the hope that it might prevent others from following his example.
A Hindoo devotee, a man of amiable character in the prime of VOL. 1.
life, married, and the father of four young children, who lived near Bombay, desired his wife one afternoon to prepare herself and her children for a walk on the beach, from whence, he said, he intended to accompany them on a longer journey ; she inquired whither, and he informed her that his God had invited him to heaven, and to take his family with him; that they were to go by water, and set out from Back-bay. Perfectly satisfied with this explanation, the wife proceeded with her children to the sacrifice: The parents drove the two elder children into the sea, and they were carried off by the waves ; they then drowned the two younger, who were infants ; the wife walked in and perished, and the husband was deliberately following her, when he suddenly recollected that the disappearance of a whole family would occasion inquiry from the English Government, and might involve his neighbours in some trouble ; so he determined to step back and inform them of the circumstance before he completed the sacrifice. The enthusiast was tried, condemned, and executed for murder; a sentence with which -he was perfectly satisfied, and only regretted that it occasioned an unpleasant delay in his passing to that heaven, which he promised himself as his reward.
In no country has superstition grown out into such distortions and deformities as in Hindostan ; the monstrous forms of its idols are proper types of the extravagant and senseless ceremonies with which they are worshipped. À Brahmin will sometimes devote himself to death by eating till he expires with repletion ! Another will make a vow of swallowing a certain quantity of clarified butter, and rolls upon the ground in agony till nature relieves him of the load. Some never eat any thing but grain which has passed through a' cow, and been picked out from its excrement, holding this to be the purest of all food! Others live wholly upon milk, and, that their exalted natures may not be defiled by the ordinary process, affect to bring up all that is not convertible into chyle, by means of a small string. of cotton. The torments which devotees, in this benighted country, inflict upon themselves, are well known. It is known, also, how the Brahminical system produces the utmost excesses of false humanity and of hideous cruelty. They who use force to keep the widow upon the pile which she would fain escape,-they who teach the mother to expose her infant to the ants and vultures, and the chil: dren to accelerate the death of their aged parents by forcing them into the river, or stopping their mouths and nostrils with mud ;they who grind in oil-mills the priests of a rival idolatry, and who pour boiling oil in the ears of the Sadra, who has been unlucky enough to hear their scriptures,-hold it a crime to destroy the insect that bites them! Some carry a light broom to sweep the ground before them, lest they should unwittingly crush any thing. that has life, and others wear a cloth before their mouths lest they should draw in an insect with their breath. That part of the Banian hospital at Surat, which is appropriated to the most loathsome vermin, and where beggars are hired by the night to serve as food for them, may make us blush for human nature.
The English Months.--JANUARY.
The year of the ancients began in March, when the appearances of Spring became distinctly visible. The moderns, by commencing it within ten days after what is called the winter solstice, appear to have been guided by the lengthening of the days, which is the cause of Spring. Though nature appears at this season to lie dormant, the process of renovation is now beginning.
January, in England, is usually the coldest month. The increasing influence of the sun is as yet little felt in our climate. The ordinary appearances of this month are extremely interesting. The small rivers and ponds are frozen over, and the glid - ; streams become a sheet, as of solid marble ;- the snow clothes the ground with its beautiful robe of whiteness; and the hoar frost dresses up the trees and hedges with crystals that sparkle like the most brilliant jewellery. The labourer, whose business is in the open air, should not pass by these appearances with careless indifference ; and the mechanic, whose occupation is within doors, should at the time when he goes to his meals, take a run into the skirts of his town, not only to keep his body warm and healthful by exercise, but to refresh his heart with a prospect of the wonders and beauties of creation.
To an active mind Nature always presents abundant food for curiosity. But winter brings the observer acquainted more minutely with the habits of many living creatures, and every inquiry makes him wiser and better in discovering the various operations of the Creator's bounty. It is in winter that the feathered race become more immediately dependent on man. Who has not had his pity excited for the red-breast that comes into our doors and windows for his crumbs, and whose song is doubly beautiful from the contrast of its cheerfulness to the dreariness around ? When the earth is as hard as iron with the frost, or the snow conceals the ordinary food of birds, the larks take shelter in the warm stubble; the blackbirds and thrushes nestle in the hedges; the fieldfares, that come to our climate from colder countries, get into the neighbourhood of towns; the little wrens find some snug hole in a thatch or hay-rick ; and the sparrows and chaffinches fly in clouds into the farm-yards, to watch for the scanty pittance of the barn-door. Providence has given food for these various tribes. in the haws and the ivy-berries, but their supply is sometimes exhausted before the return of spring, and they resort to man for suecour and protection.
There are many animals which lie in a torpid state throughout the winter. The frog and the snake are quite benumbed, and continue, as it were, dead till the return of warmth. Some sleep wholly during the inclement season ; and others, who have laid up provision for the period of cold, keep close within their retreats. The dormouse is of the one'species; the squirrel and field-mouse of the other. Animals in a state of sleep require less nourishment than those which are active :-what they do require is provided for them
in the form of fat. Naturalists state that in animals, in their torpid state, the pulsations of the heart, during the three months of winter that they become insensible, amount to no more than the usual number of thirty-six hours in their active state, and their demand for nourishment is probably diminished in the same proportion. The animals that do not sleep through the cold come to the abodes of man for their food. The foxes and pole-cats invade the farm-yards ; the hares and rabbits ravage the plantations and gardens, Happily our country is exempt from the destroying wolves which, during the winter, attack the dwellings of man in some parts of the world.
The snow, however cold it may appear, is a warm covering for those plants, which dying down to the root in autumn, shoot out into life and la luty in the spring. Winter is the season for nature's repose ; and those who are concerned in forwarding the work of nature, can do little at this period. The business of the plough and the spade is generally suspended. The farmer mends his hedges and draws on his manure; and the gardener trains his trees. The thresher now plies his flail with unceasing activity. There is a charming descript tion of his labours in one of our most delightful poets, Cowper :
Between the uprights shafts of yon tall elms
Of cheerful days, and nights without a groan.? A severe winter is to the Labouring Classes a season of great priya, tions. But every state has its peculiar happiness. While the thresher or the woodman is, in the exercise of his calling, getting health by exercise, and thus acquiring cheerful days and nights without a groan,' many an indolent rich man is dissipating the season in a round of intemperance, which brings its own punishment along with it. But in this country there are many, very many, wealthy persons, who devote their time and purses to the relief of hunger, and cold, and sickness. . If a labouring man be compelled to seek assistance, he will in England find it proffered to hini with Christian feelings. It is better, though, for every man who has employment, to depend upon his own resources, and lay by if possible in the summer to meet the extraordinary necessities of winter. The blaze of his hearth will be then doubly cheerful, and the comforts of his bumble meal far beyond what luxury can reach.'